Music: Gioachino Rossini
Artistic Director: Rosie Johnston
Musical Director: Peter Cowdrey
Reviewer: Flip Miller
The Public Reviews Rating:
This a modern interpretation of Rossini’s opera based on the story of Cinderella. There are similarities to the classic but with a twist. Gone are the pumpkins and mice so well identified with this classic story. Gone is the wicked step mother to be replaced by Don Magnifico, Cinderella’s wicked step father, played by the man mountain Derek Henderson. However we still have the Prince, Cinderella and Dandini. We learn from the programme that Dandini was introduced into the classic pantomime as a result of being created by Rossini for La Cenerentola.
The rest of the opera is very much based on the story. It is the true rags to riches story that we all know and love. There are a lot of characters pretending to be other characters which adds to the humour. Dandini, played by Matthew Cooper, is pretending to be the Prince, played by Mitesh Khatri. However the arias are written so as to quickly explain who is who to avoid confusion.
On Cooper’s first appearance on stage you really do believe he could be royalty with more that a passing resemblance to a certain titian haired royal. Very quickly you become aware that there is so much more depth to his character. His arias were booming and in particular the aria with Don Magnfico in the second act had the comic timing of a true professional. Keeping to true tradition Cooper and Henderson did a wonderful duet of the classic “Oh No He’s not” “Oh Yes he is”. They did get dangerously close to the edge of the stage at one point which proved to be a distraction.
Sadly Jessica Eccleston as Cinderella was not quite as accomplished as these two artists. The role appeared to be vocally challenging for this singer. When trying to hit the high notes or during a particularly difficult aria she would raise her right index finger or tap her fingers continuously. If she relaxed more she would get more out of her voice and her character.
The ugly sisters were represented by Clorinda and Tisbe, played by Catharine Rogers and Chloe Hinton respectively. They were excellently grotesque representations of the pantomime classic. It is a testament to their talent that two such normally pretty women are happy to caricature these roles to the extreme.
Khatri as the Prince had a lovely vulnerable and naïve quality to him. His voice was well suited to the role and he truly acted the part. He appeared to have forgotten his words at one point and this marred an otherwise very creditable and accomplished performance.
All the characters were brought together by Alidoro. A puppeteer like character who “made it all happen”. Jon Openshaw’s solos showed off his voice to its best but when in a group his voice tended to be drowned out by other, more powerful singers.
The ensemble and chorus pieces tended to be just very loud noisy arias where it was difficult to distinguish individual words until the crescendo, so typical of Rossini’s operas, where everyone was singing the same words.
Peter Cowdrey is to be commended on his excellent piano skills. There is no orchestra for the staging of this opera so he has to work exceedingly hard to ensure that the musical quality is kept up.
Sung in English and with such a familiar story line this is a perfect introduction to opera for the novice.
Runs Until Saturday 13th October
Tags: Catharine Rogers, Chloe Hinton, Cinderella, Derek Henderson, Jessica Eccleston, Jon Openshaw, La Cenerentola, Matthew Cooper, Mitesh Khatri, Peter Cowdrey, Rosie Johnston, Rossini, Suffolk Opera, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds